What to look for? Ladybird, Tunnicliffe, and the hunt for meaning

6 October 2012 – 14 April 2013 Ladybird exhibition

What would happen if you asked different experts to look at a single illustration of rural life? This exhibition does precisely that. It focuses on a small watercolour by the artist Charles Tunnicliffe. This was one of many artworks created by him for Ladybird children's books.

The painting featured in What to Look For in Autumn, published in 1960. This was part of a four-book series printed between 1959 and 1961. It was written by the biologist Elliot Lovegood Grant Watson and charted seasonal change in the countryside.


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The original Ladybird artwork is held alongside the collections of the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading. This juxtaposition inspired us to invite specialists to examine a countryside image. Their responses offer different answers to the question of What to Look For? They reveal the diverse stories that one illustration can tell.

How do you choose to look at this image and read this text? Are you interested in the artist, the illustration or other artistic responses? Perhaps the written word is more important. Maybe histories of science, of childhood or of hunting are more inspiring to you. What of the design of the book, its role in reading and learning, and how it teaches us to see and think about the world?

Share your responses and join the conversation at the What to look for? blog


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